It feels a lot better to be talking about a tough first-round matchup than another year in the NIT, especially considering how this season started.
ESPN's Bracketologist Joe Lunardi pegged the Irish as an 8-seed (as did the majority of people who predict this stuff). Thankfully, the Committee decided to look favorably on the Irish this year and grant them the same seed as three years ago... when ND went 24-7 and 11-5 in the Big East.
That year, a very talented Winthrop team picked up the first round upset. Notre Dame's opening matchup is no easier this season, as Old Dominion will present as close to an equal opponent as one can find on the opening weekend. However, the other 6/11 games are just as tight.
ODU is ranked 33rd by Ken Pomeroy, boasting a quality win over Georgetown and just one bad loss to George Mason on its way to the CAA title. The other 11-seeds, San Diego State (40th), Washington (29th), and and Minnesota (25th), all pose similar challenges to their first-round opponents. Indeed, each game is predicted to be a one-point contest by Pomeroy.
Should the Irish advance to the second round, a date with Baylor is most likely in store. The Bears are ranked 12th nationally, a better matchup than one of the top seeds we would have seen as the winner of an 8/9 game. However, Pitt (30th) and New Mexico (47th!) are 3-seeds just waiting to be upset.